June 23, 2016

Time: How Climate Change Is Fueling a Rise in Shark Attacks

Shark attacks are on the rise in the U.S.—but it’s not because sharks are getting fiercer.

The increase in attacks—59 last year, up from 31 in 2011—is connected to climate change, experts say. According to a study by Progress in Oceanography, climate change is pushing sharks and other marine species northward. At the same time, warm weather means people are more likely go swimming, a potentially fatal combination. According to the Florida Program for Shark Research, seven people have died from shark attacks since 2005.

“Each year we should have more attacks than the last because there’s more humans entering the water, and more hours spent in the water,” said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research. “What you see is more of a human activity than a shark activity.”

Most shark attacks take place in Florida, California and Hawaii, where tourists often visit beaches. The number of tourists in Florida, where the most shark attacks take place, has risen every year since 2009, to 106 million last year. Meanwhile, there’s also been a gradual increase in the number of sharks in the water.

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